Self Help Now: A community blog

Dr. Jacqueline B. Sallade offers advice for maintaining your mental health.

"Cool" Parenting Can Be Counterproductive

Written by Dr. Jacqueline B. Sallade, Community blogger | Mar 23, 2014 11:42 AM

Although I'm not immune to doing some new-age, cool type parenting myself, I've seen and heard lots of garbage ideas lately about parents being their children's good buddies, rather than real parents who serve as role models and provide structure, limits and guidance.  Other parents do the opposite, visiting with and enjoying their children briefly between daycare and sleep while they pursue their interesting careers, justifying the minimalism parenting by the apparent good development of the child anyway, trust in the daycare itself, and their own sense of accomplishment and fulfillment from working. They're bored if they stay at home too much with the baby or child.

Some of the best parents I know are highly-qualified to achieve grand things professionally, but they choose to sacrifice income and status to raise their children or they can afford to have a nanny and stay home to pay attention to some of the children while the nanny helps with the others, thus, making sure everyone gets individual care.

One of the new-ageiest ideas was on public radio today about teaching the children to swear and argue with their "cool" parents at home but act polite in public. The same author and parent teaches his children to work, study and otherwise comply and perform for bribes, such as money and gifts, rather than for the responsibility and pleasure of helping, for a strong sense of self-respect, and for learning and interest. How hockey to encourage a child to see math as a means to a reward rather than fascinating in itself. How time-limited, shallow and non-life-affirming. That unnamed fellow also proclaims that weird names give the child a sense of uniqueness and strength in learning to defend against teasing. Like a girl named "Sue," I guess. It's stupid.

I respect parents who play with their children, get to know their friends and have mutual interests and good discussions, who take the child's feelings and thoughts seriously, but always with the sense that the parent has the final authority in what happens in the family and possesses a wisdom beyond the child's. Those children end up with a greater sense of security. I think that a balance of alone-time and independence and together-with-parents-time and dependence works well. It's just commonsense. Overprotection is as dangerous aa neglect. Careers are fine but parenting is the most important job in the world. Keep it in perspective.

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